(CBS) — Gary police and firefighters are staging a protest this afternoon outside City Hall as they face another year with a pay raise.

It has been almost a decade since the first-responders have seen raises.

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They say they’re among the lowest paid in the state, with starting salaries of $39,000 and they’re quick to point out that the mayor, Karen freeman-Wilson, is among the highest paid mayors, with a salary of $142,000.

They’re planning to picket outside city hall before Tuesday evening’s city council meeting.

At an unrelated event Tuesday, the mayor told WBBM, “they deserve more, they deserve more.”

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But, she said, with all of the financial challenges in Gary, there’s just not money.

“Its not that we don’t appreciate their sacrifice. When you see what they do every day, you have to appreciate it. It’s a matter of how do you convey that appreciation,” she said.

She said she has a plan that she thinks they’ll be able to live with, including a clothing allowance.
The first responders say she’s offering a one-time payment to each of the police officers and firefighters of one thousand dollars.

That’s not going to work, they say.

The police and firefighters aren’t buying that Gary can’t afford to sweeten the deal, noting that the City stands to receive up to four million dollars this year from a public safety income tax.

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They also say the City receives several grants for firefighter and police officers totaling about two million dollars and another two million in ambulance fees and receipts from the City Court.